By Jonny Whitfield
Yorkshire Vikings all-rounder Matthew Waite is excited to play in the newly-developed Emerald Headingley Stadium, which will be completed in 2019.
Work on the stadium will give the cricket ground a brand-new north/south stand and will increase its capacity to 20,000.
It is hoped that the redevelopment will convince the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), the sport’s governing body, to keep international cricket in Leeds.
The ECB are set to introduce a Twenty20 franchise into the sport, with a 36-game summer tournament to be hosted across the country in 2020.
Waite, 21, said: “Hopefully (Headingley) will be one of the grounds that the ECB pick for 2020.
“It’ll be a lot louder and there’ll be a lot more people in – hopefully it’ll be a sell-out every game, which will be good to play in. To have more people in the ground, it can only get better.”
Waite, who plays in the Vikings second team, recently recovered from injury and is looking to stay problem-free next term.
He said: “I got my ankle issues about mid-summer. We got it investigated and they found an extra bone that was causing the problem. I had an operation in October and it feels good when I’m bowling now, so fingers crossed that that carries on.”
The all-rounder is determined to play in his side’s T20 Blast tie with Lancashire next season after missing out on the fixture this year.
He said: “I was meant to play in that game last season, but had to pull out because of my ankle. It was gutting to miss because I was actually down to play, but I just couldn’t bowl in the warm-up.
“I actually started crying because as a kid, that’s the one you want to play in, I built myself up for it all week.”
Leeds Rhinos’ main and south stands are also being redeveloped, and a section of the latter has already been erected.
Phil Daly, head of PR at the Rhinos, said: “Leeds Rhinos are very happy with the progress being made on the build.
“It was essential for us and our partners at Yorkshire County Cricket Club to do this redevelopment. We needed to update our stadiums to keep international cricket at Headingley Cricket Ground.
“Around 2,000 season tickets have been sold for the standing terraces that will be built. The work will keep our facilities at Emerald Headingley Stadium to the highest possible standards we expect.”
Yorkshire Vikings travel to Dubai in spring for a pre-season tour, ahead of their first County Championship fixture against Essex in April.